Fear setting instead of goal setting
Let’s start with this.
You won’t reach your goals until you have overcome your fears.
Or at least most of them.
Because as Tim Ferris says, no matter how great your car moves, it will not go anywhere with the parking break on.
So, instead of goal setting, what about fear setting?
Fear setting is a concept from Stoicism.
Okay, before we get to the exercise, here’s Tim Ferris’ definition of risk. I think it’s important to ponder.
Risk = an irreversible negative outcome.
- Tim Ferris
The key word here is irreversible. Based on his defintion, there aren’t many things in this world that are irreversible, besides time. Therefore, according to his definition, what some may believe is “risky” is not to him. This helps him take risks since he doesn’t see them as risks.
That’s the power of redefining things.
So maybe redefine your definition of risk first.
Okay, enough foreplay. Let’s get to it. Here’s the exercise.
On a piece of paper write WHAT IF I…. then whatever you are afraid to do.
Be very specific.
WHAT IF I CHOOSE TO FULLY LOVE SOMEONE?
I picked this fear because it’s something I hear time and time again from coaching many with their dating and relationships. It’s also a new fear I’m starting to experience that I want to overcome.
Then underneath write three columns.
Define / Prevent / Repair
First, define the worst case senerio if you choose to love someone fully, go “all in” as they say. Play out what could happen. Remember, be very specific.
Get into really specific details of the worst thing that can happen. Write at least ten.
I can get my heart broken. Duh.
I can get cheated on.
The relationship can not work out and I will have lost my time and energy.
I can fall into an intense consuming relationship and lose myself.
I can lose momentum with my personal and professional goals.
They can not reciprocate and I can get rejected.
What can you do to decrease the likely hood of the above? Again, be very specfic. The more specific, the more effective this exercise.
There isn’t much I can do to prevent possible heartbreak. But I can communicate my feelings so I can protect myself if I don’t get the reciprocation or I feel it’s not going to be a good fit.
I can share my story and express how this stove is still hot for me so he/she knows it is a fear of mine. And if I feel unsafe, I can decide the relationship is not for me.
I can be aware of my time and energy and make an effort to not lose myself in the relationship.
If I feel I’m losing momentum with my personal and professional growth, I can examine that with myself as well as with who I’m investing in.
Repair or get temporarily back on your feet or reverse the damage. Even if it’s one percent. Again, be very specific.
My heart has been broken before. I can do what I have done in the past to heal and move foward. I know the steps.
If I get cheated on, I can choose to forgive or leave the relationship depending on how I feel about him/her and the relationship.
I can see all the time and energy I put into the relationship as learning and experiencing a new love instead of “wasted”.
If I lose myself, I will have the tools to get back on track. Because I have done it before.
How this exercise works.
As you write out the fears by going through Define, Prevent, and Repair, the process allows you to play the fear out so it doesn’t seem as big as it appears in your head. Because our fears are emotion based, we freeze at the feeling without acutally looking at it. When we actually write down the fear and play it out on paper, we can literally see that there are solutions. We can see that our lives will not be over if we choose to lean into the fear. Just because it feels like the sky is falling doesn’t mean it is.
You can do this exercise with any fear. Quitting a job. Starting your own business. Going back to school. Writng a book.
The more you play out your fears, the more you’ll realize your fears are monsters you have created in your head from past experiences. They are not truth. They are feelings. Triggers. A false story you are playing in your head based on feelings not facts. Based on false beliefs, faulty thinking, and cognitive distortions.
If you can convince yourself to push through your fears, you will give yourself a new experience and that experience will start to dissolve the fear, since there’s nothing more convincing that an actual experience. If not, you will always think there’s someone under your bed and never leave your bedroom (live at your potential).
(It doesn’t work to just run this through your head. There’s something very powerful about writing something down rather than just thinking about it. This exercise should take at least 30 mins if you do it properly.)
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